What Causes Crying for No Reason?

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Crying out of the blue can happen for many reasons. Even when the crying seems out of the ordinary, there is likely some logical explanation. Depression, for instance, can make you feel sad and hopeless, leaving you crying seemingly out of nowhere.

Even the most random bouts of crying usually have an explanation. Grief and emotion don’t always come out in predictable patterns. However, if the crying you are experiencing feels really out of left field, it might be the result of an underlying brain issue. Though, rest assured, this explanation is unlikely.

What Causes Crying for No Reason?

Here is why you might be crying more than usual. 

Depression

Depression can cause a host of symptoms, including:

  • Sleep troubles
  • Appetite changes
  • Concentration issues
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Hopelessness 
  • Suicidal ideation

Depression is common, and symptoms can differ from person to person. Some people may experience episodes of seemingly unexplained crying. Others may find themselves crying more than usual.

Anxiety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with depression are more likely to suffer from other conditions, like anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a complex state characterized by feelings of intense worry, panic, and fear in anticipation of a perceived danger, and is often accompanied by other physical and cognitive symptoms. Certain eople with anxiety may feel overwhelmed and more likely to cry over seemingly mundane things.

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder have extreme highs and lows. Along with these unpredictable mood swings may come outbursts of emotion, including crying. Not everyone with bipolar has the same ratio of highs and lows. There are two main types of bipolar including:

  • Bipolar I involves manic episodes lasting at least a week and may be accompanied by separate periods of depressive episodes. Some people with this type of bipolar also experience manic and depressive symptoms at the same time.
  • Bipolar II involves periods of depression and hypomania, where the highs are not as severe as in bipolar I.

Some people may have symptoms of bipolar disorder but don’t fit neatly into these categories.

Hormones

Your tears are made up of more than water and salt. There is some evidence that emotional tears (in contrast to tears formed in response to things like yawning) contain substances like hormones and prolactin.

Hormonal changes may explain why some people seem to cry for no reason. Sometimes, the hormone changes are expected. People who are pregnant, for example, may find themselves crying more easily. The flood of hormones due to pregnancy is typical.

Other times, hormonal changes that lead to crying are part of an underlying condition, like premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD can cause:

  • Crying out of nowhere
  • Excessive crying
  • Moodiness, depression, and anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Bloating, cramping
  • Headaches and body aches 

The onset of the disorder typically happens about a week or so before menstruation. Symptoms usually subside during menstruation.

Some people may also feel more emotional while menstruating because of hormone changes.

Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

Neurological disease can also cause crying for no reason. When crying is the result of a brain disorder, there is no reason for it, aside from the physical condition. PBA is a symptom of many neurological diseases, including:

People with PBA can also experience other random emotional outbursts, including anger. Rapid changes in emotions are also possible. Going from anger to laughing in an instant, for example, can happen in people with PBA. These emotional episodes are typically very short-lived.

How to Get Help

If you think your expressions of emotion are out of the norm or excessive, you should speak to a medical or mental health professional. If you are crying for no reason and find that it interferes with your regular activities, don’t hesitate to seek help. 

Treatments for depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions may include:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Support groups 
  • Neurotherapeutics
  • Complementary therapies, including mindfulness and exercise 

Often, medical professionals will recommend a combination of therapies for maximum effect.

Get Help If You Are in Crisis

If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, reach out for help immediately: Call a loved one, friend, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which offers free, confidential, 24/7 support. Or, call 9-1-1 to get emergency help.

How to Cope

There are several ways to cope with mental illness. Seeking professional help is the first step. A professional can help you figure out the best treatment option—whether that includes medication, therapy, mindfulness techniques, or a combination of these. Some people may find it helpful to join a support group.

If you have PBA, you may struggle to deal with your symptoms. The American Stroke Association suggests the following coping mechanisms:

  • Open communication: Telling others about your PBA will help minimize confusion during an episode.
  • Distraction: If an episode seems imminent, distraction may help minimize symptoms.
  • Changing position: Altering your posture or position may help control episodes.
  • Deep breathing: Breathing exercises may also help you get through an episode.

A Word From Verywell

People rarely cry for absolutely no reason at all. If you are crying a lot, feeling down, or find your emotional outbursts are causing problems in your day-to-day life, it may be time to see a doctor.

Crying that is out of the ordinary can be a sign of depression, anxiety, or other conditions. Thankfully, most causes of unexplained crying can be managed and treated.

Some people, though, are just more emotional than others. Remember that it is OK to cry. Even if something minor makes you well up, you don’t have to be embarrassed.

If your crying is disrupting your routines, causing you to feel embarrassed, or happening with other symptoms, consider talking to your doctor to rule out an underlying condition.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Depression. August 2017. 

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health conditions: Depression and anxiety. August 6, 2020. 

  3. National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder. October 2018.

  4. Mukamal R. All about emotional tears. American Academy of Ophthalmology. February 28, 2017. 

  5. Child Mind Institute. What is premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Pseudobulbar affect (PBA). Updated April 23, 2019.

  7. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Depression. August 2017.

  8. American Stroke Association. Pseudobulbar affect (PBA). November 21, 2018.